‘Come on Emily, keep going’ – how a shout from the crowd helped Emily King at her first Burghley

  • A shout from the crowd contributed to Emily King completing at her first Defender Burghley Horse Trials in September this year.

    The 27-year-old British event rider talked about her debut at the autumn five-star in an interview on this week’s Horse & Hound Podcast, an episode supported by Equipe.

    Emily pulled up Valmy Biats, owned by his breeder Philippe Brivois and a syndicate, when he tired during an otherwise good round at Badminton Horse Trials in May and then completed Luhmühlen Horse Trials on him before he had a short break and finished third in the CCI4*-S at Burgham.

    “I thought, ‘Right, I’m not going to have many horses as brave and as bold as him to give Burghley a crack’ so we that’s when we decided to enter,” she explained.

    “He’s a very brave, bold, lion-hearted horse that feels like he would just jump anything for you and that’s what slightly runs him into trouble and makes it a bit harder for me, because he’s so brave you have to think for him a little bit. I have had a fall with him and broken a couple of frangible pins just because he’s been so brave.

    “With that in mind, I thought, ‘I really want to just get round Burghley, getting a double clear would be superb, good on the time would be superb, but I’d prefer to have a handful of time and be clear and good than be up on my minutes and then run myself into trouble like Badminton’ – or the year before at Badminton where we had a fall at the third to last because he gained ground and ended up getting a bit close and then was a bit brave.”

    On reflection, Emily King felt she could actually have been a little less cautious and attacked more at Burghley Horse Trials. The pair had a dodgy moment at the Waterloo Rails at fence 12 and broke the frangible pin.

    “I just properly messed up and ended up having the frangible pin, which was not his fault at all, it was mine – I missed my stride altogether,” said Emily, who then had to quickly check Valmy Biats wasn’t injured and decide whether to continue round the course.

    “I had dropped my whip and also his stud girth had got slightly caught on the fence so his saddle had slipped back, so a few things were feeling a bit strange. I thought I’d jump the next fence. I jumped it a little bit half-hearted and I thought, ‘Right, you’re going to have to get your act together. You can’t go round Burghley like this.’

    “What was really funny was that as I jumped the next fence, someone – who I think must have been maybe slightly oblivious to what just happened and that I was questioning continuing in my mind – shouted: ‘Come on Emily, keep on going. You’re doing great.’ I was like, ‘Right, okay, let’s do this.’ So I kicked on and he cruised around the rest – all the iconic fences, the big questions – superbly.

    “Having had the pin and having that moment of working out if I was definitely continuing or not, I felt there was no point going mad and pushing him, so I just took my foot a bit off the gas. I thought I’d just get him home safe and sound and use it as real learning thing.”

    The pair finished well and completed in 25th place after one showjump down the next day.

    Hear more about Emily’s five-star experiences this year, plus her hopes for 2024, by tuning in to episode 143 of The Horse & Hound Podcast here, or search “The Horse & Hound Podcast” in your favourite podcast app.

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